Attractive Places with Slim Aarons
Fresh Mid-Century Modern Home Listings from Across the U.S.A. 📍
When asked to define his work, Slim Aarons summed it up simply: “Attractive people doing attractive things in attractive places.”
Slim’s images speak for themselves, even sixty and seventy years after their creation. The subjects, including Hollywood celebrities, European aristocracy, authors, models, and race car drivers are immortalized in settings almost too perfect to believe. Slim Aarons archive curator Shawn Waldron expounds; “Slim’s photographs are portals to another place where the sun is shining, the grass resplendent, the pool temperate, and money, well, we don’t talk about that.”
Born George Allen Aarons in 1916, Slim Aarons' life and career unfolded against a backdrop of dramatic shifts in the 20th century. Slim’s start was a humble one, which he spoke of little throughout his life, resulting in conflicting origin stories. Born to Yiddish-speaking immigrants in a tenement on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, Slim became estranged from his parents and spent time living with an aunt, grandmother, and cousin. At 18, he enlisted in the United States Army as a combat photographer. The war had a profound impact on Aarons, shaping his future aspirations and fueling a desire to document a world as far removed as possible from the horrors of war. When asked about what combat had taught him, Slim quipped that the only beach worth landing on was “decorated with beautiful girls in tranquil sun.”
Following the war, Aarons embraced the sun-drenched shores of California, and started to make a name for himself. The six-foot-four-inch east-coaster became affectionately known simply as Slim. He honed his skills, transitioning from war photography to capturing the essence of a world steeped in luxury and leisure. Deeply enthralled by the scenes he was witnessing, Slim became a master of the environmental portrait. During the late 40’s and 50’s Slim’s reputation grew as his images first appeared on the pages of magazines like Life, Harper’s Bazaar, and Town & Country.
The 60’s and 70’s saw the height of Slim’s career. The dawn of commercial aviation took the photographer to the most luxurious locales on earth; Lake Como, Positano, Antibes, Ibiza, Palm Springs, & Nassau to name a few. His subjects, from Grace Kelly to Gianni Versace, represented the peak of privilege and glamour. Waldron expounds, “The reason his photography remains so enchanting, was his ability to capture the privileged in unguarded moments without judgment or prejudice. He was neither sycophant nor critic.”
Slim’s professional career would ultimately span five decades and culminate with Mark Getty purchasing the photographer’s archives in 1997. Though a transaction value was never disclosed, Slim did say: “He gave me what I call ‘Fuck you’ money.” Far more important than the material success, Slim’s legacy lives on through the myriad of creatives who have cited him as a key influence, including Ralph Lauren, Tom Ford, Paul Smith, and Diane von Furstenberg.